The Flood of Rights - Symposium

People now, almost routinely, make claims for their rights through user-generated communication channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. In images, as well as words and sounds, these claims are proffered and conveyed – we could say, demonstrated – by the self-proclaimed rights bearers themselves, addressed sometimes very directly, sometimes to an undetermined public. These images and their consequences constitute a human rights praxis outside of its conventional sites such as law, government, NGO activity, and formal journalism. They present a radical expansion and consolidation of human rights practices and institutions, and no less a new kind of universalism that underpins and is transformed by these praxes, perhaps constructing a practical communicative ethos that is yet to be understood.

Responding to the drastic changes in how political transformations in the name of justice have been organized and taken place since the first The Human Snapshot conference in Arles in 2011, the second Luma Foundation Conference in 2013, The Flood of Rights, questions how technologies of image-capture and the channels of communication have in recent years transformed the very terms of human rights. That is, while The Human Snapshot explored the possibilities and limitations of the intersections between human rights, photography, and universalism, our focus turns to the platforms and media of these intersections, and on how the newly produced and disseminated universalizing pressures on morality, law, civic engagement, and their institutions are themselves transfigured in the process.

Our key questions are then:

What are the technologies, languages, institutions, and interests that structure the global distribution of concepts and practices of humanism and universalism, and how do they leave their mark on these ideas themselves?

Which narratives, knowledges, and imageries have proven easier to export and import, and whose interests are at stake in the configurations at hand?

Contributors include Amanda Beech, Rony Brauman, David Campbell, Olivia Custer, Rosalyn Deutsche, Jackson Pollock Bar, Eric Kluitenberg, David Levine, Sohrab Mohebbi, Sharon Sliwinski, Hito Steyerl, and Bernard Stiegler.

Organized by Thomas Keenan, Suhail Malik, and Tirdad Zolghadr in partnership with The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCSBard) and The Human Rights Program (Bard College).

About the Center for Curatorial Studies

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) is an exhibition, education, and research center dedicated to the study of art and curatorial practices from the 1960s to the present day.
In addition to the CCS Bard Galleries and Hessel Museum of Art, the Center houses the Marieluise Hessel Collection, as well as an extensive library and curatorial archives that are accessible to the public. The Center’s two-year M.A. program in curatorial studies is specifically designed to deepen students’ understanding of the intellectual and practical tasks of curating contemporary art. Exhibitions are presented year-round in the CCS Bard Galleries and Hessel Museum of Art, providing students with the opportunity to work with world-renowned artists and curators. The exhibition program and the Hessel Collection also serve as the basis for a wide range of public programs and activities exploring art and its role in contemporary society.

About Human Rights Project

The Human Rights Program at Bard College is a transdisciplinary major across the arts, social sciences, and literature. It offers courses that explore fundamental theoretical questions, historical and empirical issues within the disciplines, and practical and legal strategies of human-rights advocacy. Students are encouraged to treat human rights as an intellectual question, challenge human-rights orthodoxies, and think critically about human rights as a discourse rather than merely training for it as a profession.
The Human Rights Project links theoretical inquiry and critical explorations of human-rights practice with active research and involvement in contemporary issues. Ongoing initiatives include projects on human-rights forensics (with the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London), music and torture, and the intersections between the visual arts and human rights (with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College).